In mid-August, many people who were oblivious to the plight of Aleppo witnessed an instantly viral photo from the war-torn city of Syria. However, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad now insists the image is not real.
The photo surfaced alongside video footage, which originally sources to the Aleppo Media Centre. In the graphic imagery, a bloodied and dazed young boy, Omran Daqneesh, and his family were pulled from the rubble of their home in the city’s rebel-held district. Widespread media reports confirmed the family’s plight as part of Aleppo’s nightly airstrikes.
The video footage even shows little Omran being placed in an ambulance. He’s shell-shocked and covered in dust and blood. He wipes his face, finds blood on his hand, and doesn’t know what to do. The sight is a disturbing one to witness. However, Assad is standing firm and says the image is fake — despite video evidence to the contrary. During an interview with Swiss channel SRF1 (as relayed by Al Arabiya) Assad looked at the photo of Omran and declared it to be “forged.” He made this declaration after the journalist asked this question:
“This little boy became an icon of war. I think you know this picture. His name is Omran and he is 5 years old. He is covered in blood. He is scared and shocked. Do you have anything to say to this boy and his family?”
Assad also insisted that Vladimir Putin hasn’t sided with him during his war on the Syrian opposition but that Russia’s simply following international law. He then denied, while claiming that his policy is “right,” that Syrians have sought refuge in other countries. There’s absolutely no explanation from Assad about why he says this photo is faked, but Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad appears to be in denial too. She was recently offered asylum for herself and children but didn’t seize the opportunity:
“I’ve been here since the beginning and I never thought of being anywhere else at all. Yes, I was offered the opportunity to leave Syria or rather to run from Syria. These offers included guarantees of safety and protection for my children and even financial security. It doesn’t take a genius to know what these people were really after. It was a deliberate attempt to shatter people’s confidence in their president.”
So, a unified front of denial is at work. Meanwhile, Russia has agreed to a temporary humanitarian halt in Aleppo, which has at least put the brakes on Russian planes taking out ai trucks during airstrikes.